For the Love of Language

Monarch student going to study in Morocco


Photo courtesy of Lauren Ortiz-Hunt

The National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y), is a program which provides scholarship opportunities to high school students or recent graduates to learn less commonly taught languages and gain experience through a summer, or academic-year long immersion abroad. NSYLI-Y prepares American citizens to be future global leaders, providing them with linguistic skills and exposure they cannot gain anywhere else. Through the program, students have the opportunity to pick from seven different languages for the chance to travel to more than twelve different countries around the globe.

After months of waiting, one of Monarch High Schools very own juniors, Lauren Hunt, was selected to participate and to study in Marrakech, Morocco from September to May of next year. Living with a host family, Lauren will be immersed in a new culture, studying Arabic, learning about the Middle East, and participating in a variety of service projects as a youth ambassador.

“It was an extensive process, I had to fill out an application in September of last year. I found out I was a semifinalist in December and then I had an interview that same month, and then I still didn’t find out until about two weeks ago. I like to imagine it was kind of what waiting for college feels like,” said Hunt.

Marrakech, Morocco is a 5,190 mile  journey from good ol’ Louisville, Colorado, and an entire ocean away. Living away from home in a new country surrounded by new surroundings and new faces can be a little scary.

“ I’m a little nervous because there’s a lot of things to think about with all of this. I’m going to go live with a host family, I don’t know the language very well yet, and there are just so many barriers but I know it will be fun. I think I’m most excited to have the chance to represent our culture while learning culture from Morocco…. to not only represent one culture but become part of another,” said Hunt.

Besides being an amazing experience, the trip will also help prepare Lauren for her future and allow her to be immersed in the things that interest her the most. Hunt, who aspires to work for the Foreign Service one day, says she hopes the State Department will take her back on after college since the scholarship is kind of like a training experience.

“I’ve always really loved travel and then I realized through history class that I really liked foreign policy and how the world works together so I really wanted to be a part of that. They really want younger people grow up understanding the culture so they can bridge them together,” said Hunt.

With new experiences and adventures, the NSYLI-Y gave Hunt the opportunity to follow her dreams all while continuing to learn and grow. With an application process that was no small trial, her acceptance distinguishes her as one of Monarchs best and brightest.